Dear Savvy Auntie,

I was visiting my sister and her family last weekend for Easter. I love spending time with my niece, but sometimes I feel that my sister still sees me as a kid. (I am younger than her.)

We went out to dinner Saturday night and as my niece and I got out of the car - it took is a little longer because of the car seat -  my niece's parents stood in the parking lot waiting for us as if they needed to walk both of us through the parking lot. (We were a grand total of MAYBE 30 feet from the door.)

In that moment, I got the feeling of "They don't trust me, I am 30 years old with a 3 year old and they don't trust me." Now this could have been done totally unintentionally on their part, but knowing them the way I do, I do not think it was. I don't feel that I will ever be allowed to be alone with my niece, and my dad has confirmed this. How do I cope with this trust issue my sister seems to have with me?

Untrusted Auntie

Dear Untrusted Auntie,

A patient of mine came in last week shaking; her sister was crossing the street with her 4 year old niece and a car hit first the niece then the sister. A broken leg, abrasions, and a concussion were minor compared to the trauma and anxiety that followed. So, I am tuned into your query from the mom’s perspective.

It may well be that your sister views you as a kid because you are not married with a child of your own. This is a very common prejudice in our society (particularly among Latinos, Italians, Greeks, and Jews). This is a challenge for you to show in many different ways your maturity and capability... pitch in on household chores, talk about your ideas of safety, visit your niece’s school and create private activities with her at home  so your sister can observe are some of the many ways you can ‘prove’ yourself just to mention a few.

Did something happen to make your sister wary? Ask her! Were your sister and her husband just reflexively waiting in the  parking lot? Are they overly cautious and protective?  These are all possibilities that can be explored and diminish your feelings of  being a untrusted. 
‘Always and never’ are made up concepts to emphasize how you feel...substitute ‘for now’ which us authentic and makes room for change!

I am not at all sure why your dad would tell you that your sister doesn’t trust you. I suggest you have a talk with him to better understand what he means.

Keep in mind that it will be a very short time before your niece will clearly indicate whose hand she wants to hold!
Good Luck,
Natalie Robinson Garfield


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